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Virus fear over 9,000 returnees to Thailand, among whom are 500 Cambodians

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Migrant workers from Thailand being briefed by provincial and health officials after crossing back into Cambodia before Khmer New Year. AKP

Thailand has expressed concerns over the return of up to 9,000 workers after April 30, among whom are an estimated 600 Cambodians.

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The returnees comprise nationals from 14 countries and Thailand is  facing new challenges as almost 9,000 nationals from 14 countries will also be returning home after April 30.

The estimated 9,000 who will return to Thailand after April 30 are 786 from Australia; 600 each from New Zealand, India and Myanmar; 500 each from Cambodia and Indonesia; 400 from South Korea; 335 from the United Arab Emirates; 331 from the Philippines; 290 from Saudi Arabia; 280 from Japan; 160 from the Maldives; and 40 from Sri Lanka.

While the Interior Ministry has prepared 796 quarantine facilities nationwide with 20,941 beds, the mass influx of returnees is renewing fears about the capacity for the public health system to manage.

“All the returnees cannot enter Thailand en masse because there are not enough medical officials to take care of them,” Taweesilp Visanuyothin, spokesman for the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA), told media in Saturday daily press briefing.

The government understands their needs and feelings, but at the same time, it is required to regulate the arrival of people from abroad, he said.

As of now, medical staff have to take care of the 2,339 returnees who are currently being kept under state quarantine for 14 days.

Meanwhile approximately 8,998 Thais set to return have already registered with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The largest group, 1,950, will arrive from the United States, which has the highest confirmed number of cases and fatalities.

Those numbers do not include 8,000 Thai workers coming from Malaysia who registered to enter Thailand by five border checkpoints in the South.

While the government opened the border passes on Saturday, only several hundred people have been allowed in at a time to avoid overcrowding.

“Border checkpoints in the South are the busiest with the number of returnees reaching 987,” deputy army spokesperson Col Sirichan Ngathong said yesterday, referring to the two-day record over the weekend.

The army is stepping up its inspections along the border to prevent some Thai citizens from covertly crossing back into the country, she said.

At Sungai Kolok border checkpoint in Narathiwat alone, 559 people did not receive permission to re-enter from the Thai embassy or consulate in Malaysia, nor do they possess travel documents, officials said, adding they are subject to a fine of 800 baht each. Bangkok Post

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